Every year, the National Association of Productivity and Organizing Professionals (NAPO) holds a nationwide conference. It’s packed with education, networking, and a vendor expo to keep us organizers up-to-date on tools, trends, and digital software/apps. This past April, they decided to change up the format into more of a retreat-style offering, so the focus was self-care and experiential learning, while still offering education/business growth.
I was fortunate to attend and had a terrific time! We were 45 minutes outside of Chicago, but a few of my fellow New England NAPO chapter organizers and I went in a day early to sightsee in Chicago, which is such a fun city. We got to see the famous “bean” , and took the amazing Chicago Architectural Foundation boat tour to learn about the history of the skyscrapers in Chicago. My family is actually from a suburb in Chicago so I had to get a famous Portillo Chicago Hot Dog!
As for the conference, we stayed at the Q Center in St Charles, which had everything we needed onsite, including food and a walking path along the Fox River. My favorite thing was the self-serve soft ice cream machine, and judging by the constant lines at lunch and dinner, it was the same for many of us!
For the self-care portion, there was yoga, belly-dancing, and meditation. It’s fascinating how each of the teachers (2 of them were also organizers) were able to connect those things to organizing and helping our clients! The biggest takeaway for me was how we and our clients can become attached to things and how suffering can result from the attachments. We can still acknowledge/cherish the memories of what we are attached to (e.g. relatives that have passed away) but if we can let go of the attachment itself (e.g. the stuff they left behind for us to declutter), then hopefully the suffering can lessen.
There were also hands-on and experiential sessions, including how to use basic household hand/power tools, and creating a vision board. There was great information on personality assessment tools (Myers Briggs, which can help us understand both ourselves and our clients, and how we might view things differently. For instance, I am an introvert, which means I get my energy recharged by being alone, vs. an extrovert, who gets energy from being with others. So networking is a challenge for me, although I stepped way out of my comfort zone and met some terrific people from all over the country!
There is also a great free app (or $9.99 if you want to save your designs) to help my clients with space planning, since I am not a strongly visual person, and sometimes clients can’t visualize how new/existing furniture might look in their space if they move it around. I also attended a wonderful leadership panel consisting of leaders from outside the organizing industry, who shared their best leadership tips and how to run a successful business.
Overall I enjoyed the format and didn’t feel like my brain was going to pop out of my head at the end (which is how I felt after a regular format conference a few years back – great information but I could only absorb so much after 3 days!). I made some great new friends and stepped outside of my comfort zone throughout the conference.